The Word Made Fresh
1A man who was a descendant of Levi married a woman who was also a Levite. 2In time she gave birth to a baby boy. She saw that he was a healthy baby and hid him for three months. 3When she could no longer keep him hidden she got a papyrus basket, sealed it with tar and pitch, put the baby in it and hid it among the reeds near the bank of the river. 4His sister kept watch over him at a distance.
5It so happened that Pharaoh’s daughter came to bathe at the river while her maids walked along beside. She saw the basket in the reeds and sent one of her maids to retrieve it. 6When she looked inside she saw the child, who had begun to cry, and she felt sorry for him. “This must be a child of one of the Hebrews,” she said.
7Then the baby’s sister approached her and said, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?”
8Pharaoh’s daughter said, “Yes!” so the girl went and called her mother. 9Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Nurse this child for me and I will pay you a fair wage.” So, the woman took the baby and nursed it.
10When the child was weaned she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, who took him and raised him as her own son. She named him Moses, saying, “I drew him out of the river.”
11When Moses was a grown man, he went one day to visit his people, and saw that they were forced to work as slaves. He saw an Egyptian beating one of his Hebrew relatives. 12He looked both ways and saw no one watching, so he killed the Egyptian and buried his body in the sand. 13The next day Moses went out again. He saw two Hebrew men fighting, and he said to the one who started the ruckus, “Why did you strike out at your Hebrew relative? 14The man said, “Who set you over us and made you our judge? Are you going to try and kill me like you killed that Egyptian?” That took Moses back, and he thought, “The word must have gotten around about me.”
15When Pharaoh heard about it he tried to have Moses killed, but Moses ran and settled in Midian. One day he was sitting down beside a well 16when the seven daughters of the Priest of Midian came to draw water. They filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. 17Then some shepherds came and pushed them away, but Moses got up and came to their aid and made sure their flock was watered.
18When they got back to their father, whose name was Reuel, he asked them, “How did you get done so early today?”
19They said, “An Egyptian came to our aid against the shepherds, and then he even filled the troughs again and watered our flock.”
20He said, “Well, where is the man? Why did you leave him there? Ask him to come and share a meal with us.”
21Moses agreed to stay with Reuel, and Reuel gave Moses his daughter Zipporah in marriage. 22In due time she gave birth to a son. He named his son Gershom, for he said, “I am a stranger in a strange land.”
23Years passed, and the king of Egypt died. The Israelites continued to suffer in slavery. They cried out for help, and their cry went up to God. 24God heard them, and remembered the promise made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, 25and God looked down and saw their situation.
1-4: A Levite man marries a Levite woman. Their names are not given here, but later we will learn that they are Amram and Jochebed. They have a son. She hides him three months then places him in a basket among the reeds along the bank of the Nile (obeying Pharaoh’s decree in 1:22). His sister Miriam (we will learn her name later) watches.
5-10: The daughter of Pharaoh (no name) comes to bathe, sees the basket, sends a maid to fetch it, finds the baby, and recognizes it as a Hebrew. The sister (Miriam) appears and offers to find a Hebrew mid-wife. So, the baby’s mother raises him! When he is weaned, she brings him to Pharaoh’s daughter who adopts him and names him Mosheh (Moses), a play on Mashah, “drawn out,” in the sense of “rescued.”
11-14: Moses grows up. One day he sees an Egyptian beating a Hebrew. When he thinks no one is looking, he kills the Egyptian. The next day he tries to break up a fight between two Hebrews and discovers that his murder was indeed witnessed.
15-22: He flees from Pharaoh. Just like Joseph, Moses begins his life in Egypt out of favor (born to Hebrew slaves), becomes part of the royal family (raised by Pharaoh’s daughter), then loses favor (by killing an Egyptian). He settles in Midian, in the Sinai desert. At a well he meets the 7 daughters of the priest of Midian. Shepherds drive the women away, but Moses comes to their defense. Again, like Joseph, Moses is a Hebrew in Egyptian guise who comes to the aid of those in trouble.
Joseph and Moses are a different kind of ancestor. They help the downtrodden. This was not a characteristic of Jacob, Isaac, or Abraham, or of anyone who preceded them! Moses in particular becomes a champion of the oppressed, just like God. It is an attribute of God to hear the cry of the oppressed and respond. Moses helps his kinsman by killing the Egyptian, then helps the 7 daughters by rescuing them from the shepherds.
Their father is Reuel (Priest of Midian). He invites Moses to his house and gives him his daughter Zipporah for a wife. They have a son, whom Moses names Gershom because he feels like an alien, a stranger.
23-25: Pharaoh dies. The Hebrew people are oppressed and cry out, and God hears, remembers, and takes notice. The Pharaoh Moses will confront later is not the same Pharaoh who was looking to kill him.
After Moses killed the Egyptian foreman, he escaped to Midian and learned how to tend animals in the wilderness – knowledge that would come in very handy later. That’s how it is with us, too, I think: God lets us suffer the consequences of our own rash actions, and uses those consequences to train us so that we will be ready and capable when God calls us to duty.